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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  October 12, 2009 4:00am-5:00am EDT

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 captions paid for by nbc-universal television this sunday, war and peace.
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>> to be honest, i do not feel that i deserve to be in the company of so many of the transforman figures honored by this prize. >> president obama unexpectedly wins the nobel peace prize, even as he tries to craft a new strategy to win the war in afghanistan now entering its ninth year. is the centerpiece of obama's policy mission impossible? this morning an exclusive debate on the way forward and whether the taliban and al qaeda can truly ever be defeated. two key voices on the hill and two experienced military leaders weigh in. chairman of the armed services committee, democratic senator carl levin of michigan, a gop member of that same committee, senator lindsey graham of south carolina, former commander in chief of u.s. southern command, retired general barry mccaffrey and former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, retired general richard myers. then the political debate,
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be will the president be be able to get his own party's support when he finally presents his plan for afghanistan. when will we see some agreement on health care and what more should the white house do to create jobs. insights and analysis from the political round table, the national journal's ron brownstein, the wall street journal's paul gigot, nbc world news america's katty kay and "the washington post's" bob woodward. finally, our "meet the press" press from february 4th, 1968. some very important lessons from another war that didn't go as planned. but first, the debate about the way forward in afghanistan. joining me now, the chairman of the senate armed services committee, carl levin and the republican from south carolina, senator lindsey graham, as well as retired generals richard myers and barry mccaffrey. great to have all how of here for such an important discussion.
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here's where we are on the president's desk, a request for more troops. up to 40,000 troops from the general on the ground, general mcchrystal. the president said in afghanistan it is a war of necessity. in march he said there was a massive encounter strategy, that was the strategy. so, senator eleven if his commander comes to him and says more as far ass, why isn't the answer yes? >> the answer is that the president of the united states has to look at all aspects of this. obviously, a commander's recommendation is important, it will be given great weight, i have no doubt about that and it should be given great weight, but also so shall the recommendation of a secretary of defense who is the choice of the president to be in that position and the president has to look at a much broader perspective than the commander's request is as important as that is. >> but doesn't that flow, war necessity, the strategy announced in march, the hand-picked guy goes in there and says i need 40,000 troops, doesn't it flow that the answer would be yes? >> the flow is that you want to succeed. and how do you maximize the
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chances of success. that is the question. and that's what the president is struggling with. we don't know with all the recommendations are, by the way, of general mcchrystal, but general mcchrystal stayed a number of things, not that he just needs more resources whatever the number is. we need a new strategy and that it is even more important than the resources, those are mcchrystal's own words. he also says deliberate, take the right amount of time to think this thing through. and he also says that what is even important than numbers is the resolve. and i had a personal conversation with mcchrystal, and what he says is that you want to find ways of showing resolve to the people of afghanistan. there are many ways to show resolve in addition to more and more combat forces, including many more trainers to get the afghan forces to be a lot larger and a lot stronger. >> you say no, don't send more troops. >> at this time i'm saying don't send more combat troops, but focus on the afghan sources, the
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army faster, larger, better equipped, why don't we have a great plan to ship equipment from iraq to afghanistan. we ought to do that to strengthen the afghan army, so there's a lot of ways to show resolve other than more and more combat forces. >> senator graham, where are you? >> i think i'm with general mcchrystal. he says the fore struck char we have today, 68,000 american troops plus the nato forces and the afghan army are not sufficient to turn around the momentum that the taliban have gained. i am all for more trainers. the president says we are not going to withdrawal. he has rejected the counter terrorism strategy. the only difference this morning is whether or not you put combat troops in to enable the trainers. the afghan national police are getting slaughtered. it is hard to train people, send them off to fight when they get killed at their first duty station, so without better security, the training element will fail. that's exactly what happened in afghanistan, so we need more combat power, general mcchrystal
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says 40,000, in that neighborhood, i would go with the general. >> there's a larger question of what the nature of the fight is right now. and i'll turn to the two generals here. this is how "the new york times" reported it on thursday, in terms of the debate taking shape within the white house, president obama's national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against al qaeda in pakistan while arguing that the taliban in afghanistan does not pose a direct threat to the united states. in fact, general jones says there's fewer than 100 al qaeda fighters currently operating in afghanistan. what is the central front here in this war? >> i think the central front is fighting against extremist that plays out in afghanistan and as in resent months in afghan stan. an extreme view of the religion is going to any means to achieve their political goals and we are seeing it play out in afghanistan, we are seeing the taliban in pakistan, so it is more than afghanistan, it is
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pakistan as well as the region, uzbekistan has terrorists that found safe haven in afghanistan before. i think that's spilled over into the rest of the world, smft. >> where should the fight be, general mccaffrey? in the white house there seems to be a very strong view that the focus on afghanistan and counter insurgency against the taliban might be misguided. we went to war after 9/11 to take out al qaeda and they don't appear to be there in big numbers in afghanistan. >> i think he set the argument up correctly. the answer we shouldn't debate is 40,000 troops. you have the giant nation, 32 million people, it is 500 miles from the sea, which complicates matters. the lostistic lines go through pakistan. the question is do we have resolve to build a viable state in afghanistan, and that's a function, not just a troop thing. having said all that, there's 25,000 taliban on the ground now as the unclassified number we are talking about.
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the country is in quadruple in terms of direct enemy threat. we are about on the verge of losing small u.s. combat forces. i don't see how the president can't backup his ground commander in the short run. >> so you have to escalate? >> i think in the short run you have no option. >> general, do you have to escalate? >> i think you probably do, but i would caution, it is not about 40,000 or whatever the number, by the way, that doesn't have to be all u.s. in my view. i think one of the things the president has to do is convince our allies to help support development of afghanistan, but they have to pony up as well. when they do so, they have to do it with the right rules of engage. >> senator levin, your colleagues, senator mccain said remember the surge in iraq. that's a model here and things got better in iraq. we don't know the outcome in iraq yet, but you traveled to iraq in 2007 and you said there were tangible positive results from surging u.s. forces. why not apply those lesson os afghanistan and send more combat troops if your general says we
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need them? >> the surge that really worked, that will work in afghanistan will be a surge of afghan troops, and that's not me speaking, that's captain, marine captain down in heldman province who says the achilles heel is the shortage of afghan troops. general conway says if he could change one thing in southern afghanistan it would be to have more afghan troops. as far as the iraqi surge is concerned, it took place after the strategy was changed to try it successfully to get 100,000 iraqi who is were attacking us to switch sides. that was called the iraqi surge, sons of iraq, and we need to do the same thing in afghanistan. it takes a plan, we don't have a plan yet to get those lower level, those lower local taliban fighters, not who are on a payroll, but they are being
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paid. >> senator graham, doesn't it also take a government in afghanistan that's a legitimate allie that isn't corrupt, that isn't failingin the fundamental job of governor ance? >> absolutely. >> why are you pitching for more troops when we don't have an allie there? >> because i do believe like iraq where we had a dysfunctional government, the security was impossible for iraq to move forward and once the security got better due to the surge the iraqis stepped up. so what i am suggesting is training the afghan army and police only is a fail strategy. we have 200,000 people trained in iraq. they folded like a cheap suit when going into combat. only when we embedded with the iraqi army and police and provided better security did the training get better and gmpbsance get better. you have to do two things here, bring about security because if the taliban keep reemerging, there's a mortal threat to pakistan, according to the foreign minister of pakistan.
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any area lost to the taliban means soccer stadiums are reopened. it would be the defeat of nato, so you have to secure the country, emerge the tall ban and have benchmarks and measurements on the afghan government to get them to perform better for their people. you have to do two things at once. that's exactly what we did in iraq, but without better security, more combat power, we are going to lose in afghanistan. >> senator, you and your colleagues, like senator mccain and others, have been suggesting that the president is taking too long in making this decision. do you think he's showing weakness in this very important national security problem? >> not at this point. at the end of the day, he'll be judged by the decision he makes. if he does a half measure, putting just a few troops in, that won't turn around the momentum of the battle. that would be weakness. if he uses the counter terrorism strategy, that will lead to failure. if he'll plus up american power and get more nato troops involved and go at the taliban and push the karzai government, that will be strength and the iranians will notice what we do
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in afghanistan. the pakistani government feels threatened by the emerging taliban. i think what he does will determine if he's weak or strong. >> but right now you think he's been appropriately deliberative? >> yes, if he'll continue to talk with his foreign policy team and the generals and come out with a military civilian strategy that is robust and gets to the heart of the problem, he'll be just fine and earn the award he was given. >> let me take a step back here. we'll get to the nobel peace prize in a minute. i want to talk about the current strategy in afghanistan by going back to the beginning. this is president bush in october of 2009 announced the invasion of afghanistan. >> given the reach of our enemies, we will win this condition flikt by the patient accumulation of successes. >> you would have to be very patient if you look at the timeline of this war compared to other wars. the united states was in vietnam for 102 months. the american revolution, 100 months. the afghanistan war, 96 months. and counting.
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where are we currently, general mcchrystal? the commander of the ground said this this summer. the situation in afghanistan is serious, many indicators suggest the overall situation is detier your eighting. >> what assumption about afghanistan was fundamentally wrong? >> i think that it played out in execution. my view and it has been talked around the four of us here, if you are going to be successful in these endeavours, iraq or afghanistan, it takes all instruments from national power. we have been focusing on troop strength. that's an important part of the equation. the other parts, though, economic development, political diplomatic development have been lagging. they lacked in iraq and now they are lagging in afghanistan. >> you are the military leader at the time with senator rumsfeld and were at vising the president, did the bush administration fail because it didn't commit enough resources to this war? >> well the -- you know, by the time i left office, afghanistan
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had a constitution, they had a central government, and they were progressing further. the taliban had retreated. the taliban has come back. and you can argue that we should have had more forces in there, i suppose, at the time. >> what do you think? that is the argument. >> i think, my view is that we had it about right. the central government was relatively cohesive. >> why aren't things going better eight years later? >> the taliban reemerged. we took our eye off the other elements of power that it needs to, not just the military part, that it needs to be successful. >> you took your eye off afghanistan because you wanted to put forces into iraq. >> no, that was never exmess it in anything that we ever did. no commander, all the commanders that we had, our central commander, the fellow general petraeus replaced, never thought that was the case. we thought we were making progress there. >> i have a different view. from the start, the war was underresourced. should president obama rush his
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decision, one of the things we saw when going into iraq was, we had the unbelievable statement from defense secretary rumsfeld that he was not asked his viewpoint on the war nor had he offered it. bringing on secretary clinton u engaged in the cia and others, they are going to own this war when done with the debate. at the end of the day, what they shouldn't do is overintellectualize this thing, talk about the we'll point on the curve in troop deployments. they have to decide, are we in, are we going to stay for ten years and build a viable state, or do we downsize, watch our allies disappear, watch the pakistanis go unstable, my guess is they have a political decision that is unbelievably difficult. the country isn't with it, the party isn't with him, how is he going to receive an answer to support general mcchrystal. >> what assumption about the war
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in afghanistan has fruchb be wrong? >> i think perhaps the key assumption so far is that there was a government which would be viable and it is not. the key assumption is that this is a matter for american combat forces rather than to be focusing on the afghan army, which is a highly-respected institution inside of afghanistan. clearly, we should keep the number of forces that we have. no one is talking about removing forces. the question is whether we focus on more and more american forces or do what we should have done here all along, build up the afghan army and build up the police much more quickly and do what we can to put in place the extent we can, a government which is the confidence of the afghan people and also focus as barry mccaffrey said on the economy as well. you have to have commitment of the afghan people to a government, and that means they
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have to see some things positive that are happening in their towns and villages. >> what about the question of when this war ends. british forces are committed in afghanistan, but back in august, the head of the british army was asked about timeline, he said this, britain's mission in afghanistan could last for up to 40 years, the now current head of the army warns in anner interview with "the times." general sir david richards said they will be committed in some manner diplomat governor nans for the next 30 to 40 years. what kind of time line should the u.s. forces expect about forces in afghan stan. will it be that long? >> how long will we be sustained casualties. most americans don't care because this made the world a more stable place and we are not suffering casualties. the question is a good one, what happened in afghanistan? i think iraq did affect afghanistan. iraq, whether it should have happened or not, became the central battle.
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we needed a surge there to prevent a los, and as the carside government failed, president bush did not push them enough. you had ambassadors on the ground and military commanders going to karzai and pushing hard on evidence and we would talk to karzide and push the government, but i think it would be required of him in this nation to understand this is a generational struggle, you are never going to make progress until you provide better security, you can have 10,000 american civilians over there helping the afghans. they can't get off the base because they'll get killed. >> senator, you are still talking about goals. and my question is about timeline. we have been there for more than eight years and the situation is detier your eighting. senator levin, why is it appropriate now to say there's a time line for how long we are there? >> well, there should be milestones for success, obviously. >> a deadline for withdrawal? >> no, i don't think we can put a deadline. i don't think we know enough about how the events are going to unfold for there to be a
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deadline, but the mistake going back to that last question, i believe, that was made in afghanistan was taking our eye off that ball and not going after bin laden. we had him where we wanted him. instead, shifting the major focus to iraq. i think that was the major mistake being made. now it would be a mistake for us to do anything other than to look for ways to succeed in afghanistan and there's a legitimate debate going on as to how are we going to succeed in afghanistan, and we need to focus on. setting a timeline wouldn't be the right thing. >> david, can i add something? >> go ahead. >> i think in the next 24 hour months if we follow the mcchrystal plan to reinforce the 68,000, bring about better security, come up with a plan of a getter go vernance and do what we are doing in afghanistan in iraq in 24 months, that's what i think. >> realistically, from both of you generals, what is victory in
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afghanistan? >> in my view, some sort of stable government. and back to senator levin's comment -- >> we can't leave. we can't pull troops out of afghan stan until there's a stable government. >> they have to be connected to the central government and feel there's some connection and some direction coming from the central government, otherwise it doesn't work. they are just in the field doing what they do, but there's no connection to the overall mission of that country, so i think clearly that's part of it. i think there has to be some economic development to give people their hope that there's something beyond what they are doing today. >> can we beat the taliban? >> well, i think in ten years of $5 billion a month and with a significant front-end security component, we can leave an afghan national army and police force and viable government and roads and universities, but it is a time constraint that we can't change things in 18 to 24 months. i think we have to lower our expectations. senator levin talks about the political resolve, is it there
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or not? a simplistic lesson i learned as the commander in combat, you have three choices. when you are under fire, you can hunker down and take casualties. it is bad. you can break contract and withdraw. or you can reinforce an attack. that's really the challenge facing the obama administration right now in that the politics of it are really tough. the american people do not appear to support large-scale continued intervention in this conflict. >> with very little time left, i want to get to two other issues. the president spoke last night and spoke about don't ask, don't tell. >> i'm working with the pentagon, its leadership and the members of the house and the senate on ending this policy. legislation has been introduced in the house to make this happen. i will end don't ask don't tell. that's my commitment to you. >> now, of course, the position of the military to expel gays and lesbians from service. senator levin, will the
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president live up to this pledge? can he? >> i think he will and he can. it has to be done in the right way to get a buy-in from the military, which is now possible. other militaries in the west, the british and other western armies have ended this distrim in a terror policy. we can do it successfully, but it ought to be done with thoughtfulness and care and with a buy-in from the military. >> general myers, is it time? >> i can't talk about whether it is time, but i think the process senator levin outlined is exactly right. the senior military ship needs to be a part of this. >> do you have an opinion on whether it is time? >> some exception with what senator levin said because gays can serve in the military, they just can't serve openly. they do and there are lots of them and we are the beneficiary of all that. i'll leave it to the current folks to decide whether it is time or not. >> there's no question, it is time to change the policy. the key to it isn't buy-in from the military, it is for congress to change the law. they ought to do so and i'm confident that the military will move ahead on it.
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>> and we, i think, will do that, but we'll need the support at least of some of the military to do it. >> that's right. >> does the president have the political resolve to make good on the promise? >> he does. many of us do. i thought it was a mix mistake to begin with. >> congress has the resolve to change that? >> i think we will change it the way we made other changes in the country. the discrimination of african-americans can be ended and it will be a great process. >> senator graham, orb on that question, do you think the military should end the policy? >> it is my belief that if the policy, you don't have buy-in by the military, it is a disservice to the people in the military, they should be included to this. i am open-minded to what the military may suggest, but i won't make policy based on a campaign rally. when it comes to time, the one thing i would say again about afghanistan, history will judge not when we lift but by what we left behind and our national security interests will be determined by what we left behind and not when we left. and if this policy about don't ask don't tell changes, it
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should be based not on politics but on reason. >> finally, senator graham, do you think the president deserved the no bale peace prize? >> if he can successfully turn around afghanistan to deter iran from getting a nuclear weapon, i will build a bookcase for him to build it in. it depends on what he does. >> senator levin. >> i think it was a positive statement about hope as well as a recognition of the new direction he is setting for us. >> we are going to leave it there. the debate will continue. thanks to all of you. and coming next, afghanistan, health care and jobs. the politics mind it all. insights and analysis from the roundtable, plus, the "meet the press" minute highlighting erie similarities between afghanistan and vietnam. only on "meet the press." ddda
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we are back and joined by katty kay, the national journal's ron bruin stein, the wall street journal's paul gigot and "the washington post's" bob woodward. it is striking, her we are in october of 2009. and it was october of 2001 when president bush made the decision to go to war in october of 2009 another president has to make another big decision about troops in afghanistan and look how the politics have changed. this was a usa today gallop poll of views of sending more troops youchl see a huge political divide. democrats, 36% for it, republicans, 73% for it. opponents on the democratic side, 59% to 23%. bob woodward, what's different? what are the politics here for this president? >> well, i think what's interesting instead of trying to figure out the future, what's going on in the white house now. it is extraordinary series of
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very long meetings. one of the big criticisms of lyndon johnson during vietnam was he wouldn't listen, and obama is listening. he's on a listening tour and everyone is getting their say and he's got to make a giant decision, not about troop numbers, but what's the strategy? and i think this is the test for him, can he come up with some con census so the military doesn't feel wounded, so his own party doesn't feel wounded. and if he does that, a lot of people, even if they don't agree with the final decision will say, he did something -- again, george w. bush in deciding to go into iraq, the model there was he decided, we are going to do it. all the meetings were about how to do it, never considering other options. >> but there's a real debate
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about this policy that has broken into the public. you broke this story with mcchrystal's assessment. the vice president is on the governor of "news week" magazine as his counselor to the president, including the question of afghanistan. we spent a lot of time talking about this in the bush administration over iraq. this has played out publicly. >> i think to everyone's benefit, including the president's, including the military, and, certainly, the public. look, if we had had the secret report on wmd in iraq before the war and published that, history might have been different. it is very important to know if you can with these classified memos say, and in this case we have it and people are talking about something very concrete. >> the question is the president had a strategy and announced it in march. it was clear. this is what was charles wrote on friday in his column, so what does the commander in chief do now with the war he once
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declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by bush? perhaps provide the resources to win it? obama publicly watches. why? >> i think the implication is because of domestic politician be politics. the republican legislators are basely in charge of the favor of the strategy. the problem is he is getting enormous problems from capitol hill. we are going to have a hard time appropriating money for this, so they are putting great pressure, and you see inside the white house, the debate you are talking about, the political side is against this. a lot of the strategists in the state department, some of the people like richard holbrooke and others are saying, look, we have been making a commitment here to afghanistan and pakistan. if we are going to unwind that, it could be very dangerous. >> well, you know, in the speech in march, in the original speech from the president, he said we have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al
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qaeda. the discussion is how do you operationalize that goal. when you talk to people in the administration, there's a con census that the core goal is to prevent a taliban victory that would give them control of the mechanism of the state in afghanistan to a low them to reconstitute basis for al qaeda. the question is what do you do then if that is your goal to avoid this and to get to the irreducible time of the taliban taking over. what does that mean in terms of political reconciliation within afghanistan itself. and my guess is that is the track they are headed down. that does not imply the 40,000 troop that is the general wants, but it doesn't also imply simply leaving the status quo as it is, but that seems to be the core principle they are organizing around. >> but i go back to this question on assumptions. during vietnam, did they funmently question the assumptions of the war? they didn't do that, we went to war to beat al qaeda and are in
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a struggle with the inurgents, the taliban, it wants to take over afghanistan. you can play that out. ultimately, have the assumptions of the war been challenged? >> i think that's exactly what is happening in the white house at the moment. in the sense, it is a false choice to say we are looking at the mcchrystal plan or the biden plan. it is not necessarily just about these 40,000 troops or not 40,000 more troops. the discussions are much broader than that. at base they are questioning if the taliban did takeover some of the rural areas, no one is talking about the taliban being allowed into kabul and kandahar, but say the taliban took over the rural areas of afghanistan and the americans pulled back some of the outposts from there, would that necessarily even men they allowed al qaeda leadership? would the al qaeda leadership currently in pakistan move into some of the areas of afghanistan? so we are talking about really fundamental stuff now about the mission itself and what would happen if the taliban were allowed -- >> isn't it striking that you have the former chairman of the
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joints chief of staff who says we have to make afghanistan stable, where were the republicans who want all the troops now and want mcchrystal to be listened to during these eight years when this appears to be an underresourced war? >> well, as you know, we were fighting and resourcing the war in iraq. and that was the focus. i mean, who knows what the outcome is going to be, but it is good that they are questioning these assumptions. paul suggests that politics is driving this. obviously, politics is there, is it always? i don't think it is driving it and i think from the reporting i've done obama is forcing them to dig into this and the people who are on one side or the other are kind of -- it is having a calming effect on them because they realize this is a really hard course, hard choice. >> what was the debate in march
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about? what was the stra to the edge review in march about in the. >> that was a debate, a short-determine date debate to get us through the fighting period of the summer, and i don't think anyone thought the result of the debate was going to pre-empt what happened now. >> i can tell you the pakistanis don't think it was a short-term result. the president, when he announced his policy, didn't make it sound like this was a short-term policy. this was a that teenageric. >> -- >> but it is not clear -- can i make a broader point. the politics are not as dire, i think, as has been suggested. the history is that the president has enormously weight in these kind of arguments. the first time a majority of americans said the vietnam war was a mistake to send troops was august of 1968. we stayed there another seven years and for all the weariness and frustration with afghanistan, the fact is that americans, i think, do see more of a genuine national interest there than they did in iraq. we still have 61% of americans saying it was not a mistake to send troops and we have 80% of americans in gallop polling
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saying that denying terrorists the opportunity to reestablish bases in afghanistan is in our core national interest. so i think he has more leeway here to drive the debate than is sometimes suggested. that doesn't mean he's going to end up where lindsey graham or paul wants him to go, but he has more freedom than many people argue. >> when whi american wake me up in the morning, they say they want a whipped cream waffle. when the president's children wake him up, they say he's won the nobel peace prize. this war president that we are talking about has been diverse. here's move marcus in "the washington post" saying this, this is ridiculous, embarrassing, even. i admire president obama, i like president obama, i voted for president obama, but the peace prize is tozed who be for doing, not being, did he deserve this? >> no, he didn't deserve it. his advisors say he didn't deserve it. most of his supporters think he didn't deserve it.
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you get the sense that the white house is embarrassed by it because it puts enormous pressure on him to deliver. he got support for banning nuclear weapons. we are going to get rid of nuclear weapons. you are going to take u.s. values and you are going to make them with their message to global values, the to the majority of global voters. what does that mean? there are a lot of tick tars dictators out there, some in china that we have to deal with, su these american vams is something that will not play in the american elect rat. >> if you change the nature of the debate in the world, that's what he said he was going to do, and the debate is out there. now, i think it is absolutely true. let's look at results. clearly, the committee that awards these prizes wanted to stick it to george w. bush. >> you think? >> yeah, i know. and it is evident. actually, next year they are going to have another opportunity to do that because then they can give it to bush's
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dad for ending the cold war. >> some of the irony of this is that the president is criticized for once again being the darling of european capitals and the nobel peace prize was a recognition of that. but on the day it was announced, i read the press in europe and they were just as much surprised as the press here. but i think his point is changing the tone of the debate and shifting from policy of strong-arming allies to engaging allies has the potential, and this is what the white house says. this is ans a pi raral prize. >> this sort of speaks to -- i think that's what the europeans are responding to. here's the american ideal. this is the america we dream about. and the president said is this on friday reflecting something we said recently at the united nations as well. listen. >> i know these challenges can be met so long as it is recognized they will not be met by one person or one nation
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alone. this award is not simply by the efforts of my administration, it is about the courageous efforts of people around the world. >> if question when he receives the award in december, does he give the speech as peggy nunan suggests, that he should talk about america's role in the world? >> look, i think first of all the award is probably more of a problem for the nobel peace commission than here in america. it will be seen as more political nibbling around the edge of this with more awards. but the fundament tall divide in our foreign policy is whether you believe that the core way to protect and advance american interest in the world is through unlateral action in the world and through the president's coalition, by and large, the new democratic coalition, very heavily dependent on upper middle class college educative voters, they are the core way of advancing american issues.
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when you went around the country in 2008, you talked about people supporting president obama. they said they thought he would change america's reflection of the world. this is what you see in the polling around the world, but he also has to be clear while he doesn't embrace the idea of america being part of the global community, he is going to defend our interest if it requires us to collide with that goal. polls paul's point was made in 2004 when dick cheney and rudy giuliani argued that the fact that george bush was unpopular in europe was proof he was standing up for american interests. that counter argument has been made and the president does have to be sensitive to it and he was in the statement on friday. >> the question at the end will be if he gets resulted on afghanistan and iran and even on global economic stimluls. so far, perhaps on iran, perhaps the rupgss are making the right sorts of noises to cooperate with sanctions on iran because there's a decision noted to have the defense shield in europe. that could be an indication where you could say president
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obama's new approach produced tangible results. i'm not sure you can say that about afghanistan yet. you can't say it on the middle east peace policy yet. >> where is the first test of this going to be in this afghan strategy review now going on. general mcchrystal is not just the u.s. commander, he's the nato commander. there are 41 other nations who have troops in afghanistan. so what mcchrystal and president obama and the others are going to do, and this is kind of a pre-nobel test, go around the world, do the briefings, get those people involved. they have 30,000 troops in afghanistan. >> you are making my point because if you are relying on the allies in afghanistan, it is a fool's mission. they will not help us. they have not helped us. the germans won't even fight. >> i mean, in consulting the 30,000 troops who were there, you have seen the -- >> you are right about this. the canadians and others are
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fighting and dying, but ultimately, if you think that they are -- the canadians have already set a date explicitly to exit -- that's right. if we are going to finish this job, the americans will have to leave and that is why madeline albright called america the explicit nation. >> that will be the test for the president and one of the questions asked in 2008 was will the greater population around the world translate to tangible results. in polling around the world, often you see the plubic and countries saying more people trust him than their national leaders to make the right decisions. does that translate? >> i want to bring you back to northwestic policy, the economy and health care. look at this poll number from the university poll out this week in terms of the most important problem today. the economy, 42%, health care, 18%, war, 7%. we spent a lot of time about war. it is usually important, but, ron, the economy right now is huge, whether it is approaching double-digit unemployment. this is still the biggest
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challenge for this president. and then the question, is there more that the president should be doing to create jobs? >> well, and clearly, unemployment is shaping the national mood. we do a quarterly poll all state national journal heartland poll, and in the survey we put out this week, it is a very toxic mix of attitudes and kind of a combustible mix of attitudes out there right now. you see the public at once, apprehensive about the war with large majorities saying they are concerned about more boom and bust in the years to come. declining trust in every major institution, government, the private sector, the financial sector, and at the same time you see intense polarization along racial lines, to some extent, age and income lines about what we do next, as long as you have this overhanging fear of unemployment out there, i think it is very difficult to build con census for any direction. yes, the white house is going to be forced to look at this. there's discussion about a job creating tax credit for people who create jobs.
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the problem is it is expensive to do in a meaningful way. the next area of the debate is if we go down the road of trying to create a jobs incentive tax credit, do you take the money away from already allocated dollars to the stimulus or do you make the deficit larger? they are beginning to discuss there, no decision is eminent, but clearly this unemployment is hanging over, i think, and shaping this national mood and there's a great deal of anxiety out there about where we are going as a country. >> every president learns they are not commander in chief of the economy, and obama is learning that, too. and he is commander in chief of the military in the confidence factor is so important here. if he does this in a way that the military is satisfied, if his own party, if the republicans are satisfied, then people will say, okay, we are confident in him. if he fails, if there is a breach between the white house and the military, which would be the nightmare for obama and the people who run the military, then we are really in trouble.
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>> if you think about the economy and the prospect of a second stimulus to create jobs and health care, which gained momentum this week. you have prominent republicans signing on as the bill makes its way through the senate. what happens? >> well, i think health care is going to pass. in some form, frankly, the fact that it hasn't moved through yet is creating an enormous uncertainty. people who are job creators, small business, big business, they want to know what cost is it going to take to hire these employees. and there's so much uncertainty now about public policy in washington. how much -- is there going to be a big energy tax, how big is the health care tax going to be, what about trust policy, contracts, how secure are they? that is weighing heavily on job creation even as we get what otherwise is a recovery. we are going to have 3% growth, i think, in the latter half of this year, but unfortunately, it is probably not going to have any jobs until this washington uncertainty settles down. >> whether it is war or health care or still on the economy,
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katty kay, i spoke to a business leader last week who said the problem is there's robust job creation and economic growth. double-digit inflation, if that's coming, hanging over the midterm race, what impact does it have? >> most economists say they don't see jobs turning around until next summer, so in some senses we are on track. it is not surprising that jobs are still being lost at the moment. try telling that, though, to people who are losing their jobs. it is not a reassuring prospect and saying this is what economists were expecting. if the numbers start turning around next summer, then that, of course, is heading into the mud terms and that looks better for the president, but it is all about jobs next summer. >> go ahead. >> to make it more complicated, you have positive grab joet next year but not enough from keeping the unemployment from continuing to rise. it will be a big impact in 2010. >> we'll live it there. coming next, the "meet the press" minute from 1968 at the height of the u.s. involvement in vietnam.
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we are back with our "meet the press" minute. in the early hours of january 31st, 1968, north vietnamese and see yet khan forces launched a massive deadly attack against more than 100 cities and towns throughout south vietnam. catching u.s. forces off guard, u.s. troops recovered quickly, though, and managed to deliver a military defeat to the viet khan. still, it became a political defeat for the johnson administration fueling the an - anti-war movement back home. it also marked the height of the u.s. involvement in the vietnam war. the man known as the key architect of that war, secretary of defense robert machina mara announced his pending resignation a month earlier. in a rare interview here on "meet the press" just four days after the offensive he made the
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stark admission that the war had not gone as he planned. >> looking back at the rather agonized week in vietnam, if we had to do it all over again, would you make any major changes? >> this is not an appropriate time for me to be talking about changes with hindsight. there's no question about what five or ten or 20 years from now, the historians will find actions that might have been done differently. i'm sure they will. as a matter of fact, my wife pointed out to me the other day four lines from t.s. elliott that answer your question. elliott said, we shall not cease from exploration. and tend of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. now, that applies to vietnam. i'm learning more and more about vietnam every day. there's no question i see better today than i did three years ago or five years ago what might have been done there. on balance, on balance, i feel much the way the asian leaders do. i think the action that this
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government has followed, the policies its followed, the objectives its had in vietnam are wise. i don't, by any means, suggest that we haven't made mistakes over the many, many years that we have been pursuing those objectives. >> you seem to say none of us really appreciated what we were getting into. >> i don't think any of us predicted seven years ago or 15 years ago the deployment of 50,000 men to vietnam. i know i didn't. >> general william westmoreland requested an additional 206,000 troops from lyndon johnson, and that request was denied as they reassessed the policy in an effort to deescalate the war. still, the last u.s. military unit would not leave vietnam until march of 1973. all told, the u.s. lost more than 58,000 troops during the war. we'll talk more about the parallels between vietnam and afghanistan and hear from bob
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woodward about his 2007 interview with robert mcin a mara, his last interview on record before his death where mcnamara goes farther about the mismanagement of the war. we'll post the conversation mismanagement of the war. we'll post the conversation later today in the "meome to pr. how may i help you? i'm looking for a deal on car insurance. i think i might have a coupon in here. there's an easier way. we've got the "name your price" option. you do? follow me. you tell us how much you want to pay, and we'll build you a policy that fits your budget.
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before we go today, a couple programming notes. tonight, tune